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Published Jun. 21, 2012

Times wires

CHICAGO - The BCS commissioners and Notre Dame are backing a football playoff plan with sites for the national semifinals rotating among the major bowl games and a selection committee picking the teams.

The plan will be presented to university presidents Tuesday. Once the presidents sign off, as expected, major college football's champion will be decided by a playoff for the first time starting in 2014.

"I am pleased with the progress we have made," said SEC commissioner Mike Slive. "There are some differences, but we will work them out. We're trying to do what is in the best interest of the game."

Though commissioners refrained from providing specifics of the plan, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott did say the two semifinals would be worked into the existing major bowls (Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar) and the site of the title game will be bid out like the Super Bowl.

The semifinals would not be tied to traditional conference relationships, the Associated Press reported. A committee would choose and seed the schools that play for the title.

Scott has pushed for conference champions to be given preference for the playoff but said he was comfortable that a committee would emphasize that and strength of schedule.

FSU tries CWS flip

OMAHA, Neb. - When FSU and Arizona meet today at the College World Series, both teams will start the same pitchers as when they met in the opening round but the Seminoles hope for a different result.

An Arizona (45-17) win would send the Wildcats to the championship round. A win by FSU (50-16) would force another game Friday, with the winner going to the best-of-three finals.

The Wildcats will send Kurt Heyer (12-2) against Seminoles freshman Brandon Leibrandt (8-2). Heyer went 72/3 innings in Arizona's 4-3 12-inning win Friday. Leibrandt went 41/3, his shortest outing since March 17.

"My teammates told me that game wasn't going to be my last start," Leibrandt said. "I believed them, and here we are."

Wednesday's elimination game between South Carolina (46-18) and Kent State (47-19) was postponed to noon today.

All Bulls in clear: USF's Academic Progress Rate scores show continued progress, with no teams facing sanctions. In all, 15 of 18 athletic teams made improvements from a year ago, with football (up 10 points to 963) making the biggest three-year improvement out of 63 schools in BCS conferences.

Poisoned trees case: The lawyer for Harvey Updyke, an Alabama fan accused of poisoning landmark oak trees at rival Auburn, unsuccessfully argued during jury selection that Updyke should not have to stand trial near that campus, especially since his reported confession was published by a student newspaper. Attorney Everett Wess then denied that Updyke, who has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, told the Auburn Plainsman during a break Tuesday, "Did I do it? Yes."

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.